Updated: Jul 20
Tell about yourself and stunts, Robby!
I’m not special, I’m not as gifted as some Stuntmen, but I possessed the desire to always, regardless of the stunt, do a good job. I’m from Washington, D.C. and started my Karate training in August 1968. I competed in numerous Karate Tournaments from 1969-1989.
I fought in Washington, D.C. Baltimore, Maryland, Virginia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, North & South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, Arizona and California. I competed during my high school and college years. I went to Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina and received my BA degree in History. I received my MA degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois.
I moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1980 to pursue a career as a Teacher and Stunt performer. I became a Gang Probation Officer for the County of Los Angeles in 1981. While working as a Gang Officer I started pursuing the Stunt Business. The people that inspired me were my Karate Instructors Mr. Carl Tillman and Mr. William Philipps from Washington, D.C. They changed my life because I had no father figure.
I was also inspired by Robert Conrad from the series “Wild Wild West”. There were several Stunt Coordinators who gave me a chance: Jophery Brown, Ronnie Rondell, Mic Rodgers, Shane Dixon, Rick Avery, Julie Michaels & Pee Wee Piemonte, Roydon Clark, Tim Trella, Mike Adams, Mike Runyard, Keith Campbell, Uncle Gene LaBell, Keith Tellez, Terry Leonard, John Moio, Troy Brown, and Uncle Charlie Picerni.
I started my stunt career in 1988. Like today, there were and are several great Stuntmen. I stayed in my lane, meaning I put in for things I knew I could do. I never claimed to be a World Champion Karate Fighter. I always said: “I’m an experienced fighter and I’m willing to take the hit or fall to the ground."
Ronnie Rondell gave me my first stunt job. I was able to double Le Var Burton on a series called “Houston Knights.” My first stunt was a stair fall down winding stairs. It was so exciting. I was flown to Houston from Los Angeles and for a guy like me that was such a thrill. Jophery Brown, took me under his wing and taught me a lot. He was hard but always gave me a pat on the back. Even when I made mistakes, he took the time with me.
Mic Rodgers, like Jophery was a true mentor. I learned a lot by watching him and being around seasoned Stuntmen. He knew how to motivate and had great command of the camera. He didn’t talk a lot, but he would say “Good job, Robby."
Uncle Charlie Picerni, is a walking dictionary. He is willing to share his knowledge and can tell you some of the best stories ever. I think every Stuntman is a great story teller.
I was brought in to do a non-descript stunt for a major movie at Paramount Studios. The actor is well known and was known for his fighting prowess. During break time, I watched the actor go through his paces with his stuntman. Since there were 1st and 2nd Units, it was decided that the stuntman would perform the fights on 2nd Unit. I stood in the wings and watched him rehearse.
Before doing the fighting stunt, the stuntman was to perform a stair fall. He completed the stair fall but was injured. The Director made the statement “We must get the fight scene done today or tomorrow.” The Stunt Coordinator walked over to the Director with his back to me and started talking. The Director moved around the Stunt coordinator and looked at me.
Suddenly, they both turned around and motioned me to come towards them. When I got to where they were standing, the Stunt Coordinator said: “He is good at fighting and would be a good double for the actor." The Director looked at me smiled and said, “You got the job." The Coordinator looked at me and said, “Ok, Robby, your time has come.” I did the fight in one take and received a “nice bump.”
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
The best part of being a stunt performer is the things you learn on the set, the people you meet, the stories that are told about setting up stunts, the comradery, and the places of travel.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
All I can say is know your craft, listen, learn, stay quiet, and respect the Stunt Coordinators.
Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/robby-robinson/